Film reviews

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The Raven (15 – Dir: James McTeigue – Stars: John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson)

Edgar Allen Poe is the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of American words.

The public wants only his gory, blood and guts thrillers, but he’d rather write literature.

One fan has taken adulation to the extreme, and is enacting Poe’s inventive line in murder for real, setting the writer a challenge in detection which he’s struggling to meet.

The Raven comes from the makers of V for Vendetta and has much of its full frontal style.

Cusack’s laid-back acting is good as the talking Poe, but struggles a bit with the action man Poe.

7/10

The Flowers of War (15 – Dir: Yimou Zhang – Stars: Christian Bale, Ni Ni)

Christian Bale is in top form in The Flowers of War, a film which caused a huge storm on release in the East.

Westerner John Miller (Bale) arrives in Nanjing in 1937 to prepare a Catholic priest for burial.

The second Sino-Japanese war has begun, and he finds himself the lone adult protector among a group of convent girl students and prostitutes from a nearby brothel.

As the horrors perpetrated by the invading Japanese army unfold, Miller is forced by harrowing circumstance to embrace the meaning of sacrifice and honour.

An unflinching depiction of the brutality and courage of war in the so-called Rape of Nanking.

8/10

Delicacy (12 – Dir: David and Stephane Focukinos) – Stars: Audrey Tautou, Francois Damiens)

The premise of Delicacy is – is it possible that the delightful and beautiful Nathalie (Tautou) could fall for the socially awkward, physically unremarkable looking, oddly mannered and slightly dull Swede Markus (Damiens).

It’s a tough ask, and just about gets home.

Nathalie is mourning her husband who has been killed while out jogging in Paris.

She’s ruled out romance, until a casual kiss begins to raise the prospect again, much to the amazement of her fellow office workers.

Delicacy is too self-consciously chic at first, playing much on the Tautou of Amelie, but good when it gets down to the kitchen sink level as this new life emerges.

7/10